Far East Suite
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Top Customer Reviews
Far East Suite is delightful from start to finish. Forty years later a lot of it sounds like spy music - maybe James Bond theme music, or maybe Las Vegas lounge style - but that's not a bad thing! Tourist Point of View is laid back, showcasing Paul Gonsalves' amazing tenor sax, tasteful as always.
The world class sax work from Gonsalves and Johnny Hodges continues throughout, but in my eyes Harry Carney deserves special notice. From personal experience I can say that it's hard to make a bari sax sound good, much less sweet or sexy. But Carney does all the above, particularly in track 7, Agra. It is a concerto for bari sax that might change your mind about what the instrument can do.
But then Agra leads into Amad, which is so rhythmically compelling it's hard to sit still listening to it. It is a sinuous fluid demonstration of the Duke's ideas of a rhythm section composed of every instrument in his band - with a typically assertive piano line. Lawrence Brown's trombone shines.
Ad Lib on Nippon is tour de force, and contains some absolutely top shelf clarinet work at the end, amongst its other charms.
The seven bonus tracks on this disc are noteworthy. I've listened to the two bonus Bluebirds more than the others. While I can agree with the original choice, the other two are still great. I think Hamilton was a little off his game on track 12, but track 13 is technically excellent.Read more ›
So it is with The Far East Suite, and for those who are not familiar with Ellington's many Suites, a good starting point.
The band was in excellent form, and the songs are ageless. The Strayhorn/Ellington collaborative art form was at its apex.
Time is given to let the musicians stretch, and Hodges even tosses in some blues honking-but everyone is at the top of their game; Gonsalves, Hamilton, Carney, and the unsung hero of the LP, Rufus Jones, who made it swing like mad with outstanding drumming.
By the way, one can now see versions of "Isfahan" and "Agra" on YouTube,allowing another insight to the players; Hodges, as usual, never showing a hint of emotion, Carney with his circular breathing. Amazing players and amazing songs.Mt Harissa, Amad,Blue Pepper..None got much airtime, if at all, but highlights the depth of composition and colour.
One small piece of trivia. Isfahan, (which is pure poetry, and cannot be improved upon) was written by Strayhorn years before the band ever went to the Far East; it was originally called "Elf."
If you don't yet have this, get it, Should be part of everyone's collection of Ellingtonia.
When, like me, a lover of rock and free jazz, you get used to instruments sticking out. Mile's wha wha trumpet. Coltrane's sax.
This is why it is a little jarring to work your way into Ellington. Far East Suite is a perfect example.
This subtle and sublime music is based on Ellington's tour of the Far East in the early 1960s, and came out in 1966. These are sublime melodies, with each instrument perfectly balanced with all others in Ellington's band. The music works like soft butterscotch, revealing its flavor gently, from inside its silk surface.
I find the same subtly in the theme of the music, given its name. There are, in fact, many Far Eastern elements throughout this wonderful suite. But they are blended into Ellington's style. He smoothly woos you with each new idea, each invention, like a doctor who you expect to give a needle and then find out he already has. The masters refinement is astounding, and brilliant.
I can't say that I am bowled over. I can't say I am blown out of the water. But that is not what this music is designed for, and if wading into Ellington's massive pool of work is a life long, gentle process, I have an inkling the Duke may have planned it that way.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What an amazing ride! Any Duke fan or newbie needs this in their collection. So rich, so beautiful and amazing energy.Published 23 months ago by J. Astbury
This is a unique Ellington cd with wonderful far east inflections performed by the wonderful big band with the superb dynamics and subtlety one associates with it! Read morePublished on November 18, 2012 by Pierrepont Hokie
heard the number amad two weeks ago on internet radioio and life just hasn't been the same. i was determined to get the cd and i did on amz. Read morePublished on August 5, 2008 by Reginald Hill
There's something about this album, especially the opening track that always reminds me of the theme to the old Jonny Quest cartoon. Read morePublished on June 23, 2007 by S. Perry
The Far East Suite I first heard on Dutch radio, back in '67 or '68. The album has been with me for all this time, and every new cd edition seems to improve on the last. Read morePublished on March 18, 2007 by Loek Hopstaken
Particularly "Ad Lib on Nippon." I could listen to that piece all day. It's delightfully dynamic and hedonistic. Read morePublished on January 2, 2007 by A. Nolan